These people were asked to describe something their parents have said to them, that left a huge impact on them. These moments or thoughts might not have been a big deal to the parents – maybe it was just an off-handed comment. But their children never forgot.
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Our next door neighbors were going through a bitter divorce. We often heard them yelling and fighting leading up to it, so it was no surprise.
One day, I saw Mom & Dad embracing, very affectionately, and I said, “I sure hope that you two never become like them next door.”
Dad looked at me, and said: “We don’t yell, we discuss. We don’t fight, we disagree, then find a way to work it out so it’s good for both of us.”
My mom was dying from cancer and had a few strokes which left her unable to talk, and only move her left arm. When I got to the hospital the last words she ever said were “My baby!” So loud and audible. She won’t know the impact it has on me now, but it was probably a big deal to her.
“Unless someone is in imminent danger, never make a decision in the heat of the moment. There is always time to think.”
He was talking about sales pressure, but I’ve found it to be true for every situation.
Not something he said but something he did: I lost my father when I was 15 on December 16. When they were cleaning out his apartment after all his affairs were settled, they found a Christmas present with my name on it – a putting green and putter.
It may not seem like much to anyone here but at the time I was just starting to get into Golf and I never had thought my father really paid attention to what I was into. When I was handed that putting green, I instantly realized he did in fact care and had been listening to me all those times I thought he wasn’t paying attention. I cried then just like I’m crying now remembering it.
I miss him
I was NOT a good kid. Lots of rage, terrible behavior, constantly trying the patience of my parents at every turn. I do not blame my parents one bit for their frustration on a daily basis.
Probably around age 6 or 7, I did something and my mom was at the end of her rope & told me:
“I love you. But right now, I don’t like you.”
As a kid, this made 0 sense to me because like and love with family are the same thing right? It just sort of confused me and made me a bit sad for a while.
Years and years later (late teens?) this memory came back to me and kind of hit me like a ton of bricks. Not because my mom didn’t like me at that moment, but the realization that having a strong relationship means loving or respecting even through the more temporary moments where you’re angry and don’t particularly like the person.
This has guided every relationship I’ve had as an adult. Family. Friends. Coworkers. My wife. It really helps me keep perspective in the rough moments, and remember that the anger is temporary and will pass. And that the person will still be there at the end.
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My mother said something to me when we were getting her passport renewed. This was in June 2016. The option was for a 5 or a 10 year renewal. I checked off 10 years and she just chuckled and told me not to waste my money. I asked her why? She said… “I’m 77 years old”.
She passed away 4 months later.
When I was small, my mom and I would read together every night before bed. One night when I was maybe 5, we read a new book: I’ll Love You Forever. It’s written from the mom’s point of view as her kid grows up and does exasperating things (ruins her favorite watch, stays out late with friends, etc). Each time, the mom says, “I’ll love you forever, I’ll like you for always, as long as I’m living, my baby you’ll be.” The last page is written from the adult son’s point of view as he gently takes care of his senior mother, and he says the same thing his mom always said, but says “mommy” instead of “baby”. My mom cried reading it to me, and I didn’t understand why until I got older and realized she was imagining all the stages of life she would go through with me and my brothers. I’m an adult now, and thinking of it still makes me teary-eyed.
“Never underestimate how much a dollar can buy, so be careful with your money.”
When I was pretty young my mom once told me “Never feel embarrassed about asking for a ride home” in regards to not being sober enough to drive. Years later I’m leaving a friend’s house and I make it about 1 block before I can literally hear my mom’s voice in my head as I’m driving and thinking to myself, “Man I don’t want to call my BF to come get me after I told him I wouldn’t need a ride.” Immediately pulled over and called him. 10/10 would do it again.
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“Don’t compare yourself to your sister. You two are both amazing in your own right.”
I struggled with living in the shadow of my sister’s academic prowess. All the teachers knew who she was and expected me to be the carbon copy of her. I put so much pressure on myself to be just as good and my mom saw me struggling and said this to me one day. It took awhile, but I finally realized that I am my own person with qualities that are unique to me and make me a good person.
Something my Dad told me that’s always stuck with me.
Once we were driving to pick up my stepmom, I was around eleven or twelve. (For reference my Dad used to be a bank manager before he retired) He told me about a customer he had a few year back that had immigrated to Canada and after working several different jobs he decided he wanted to open his own business. Now according to my Dad this guys credit wasn’t super stellar but it wasn’t awful but his business idea was considered high risk. My Dad told the man the bank couldn’t give him a loan and the guy was distraught. He begged and pleaded swearing up and down he would be successful and pay back the money. Now this was back before everything was done with computers and your loan was actually accepted or denied by a person. So my Dad told the man he’d do what he could. Couple days later my Dad called the man and told him he approved the loan and the man was ecstatic. Fast forward a few years and the mans business is booming, as well as several others he started up. He’s one of the banks best customers.
After telling me this story he pulls the car over and looks me in eyes and says “I approved that man because I saw something in him. He had what you call good character, and having good character is more important than money.”
When I was little, I was mad at my mom. One morning when we were fighting for whatever stupid reason, she was dropping me off for school. She said she loved me and I told her I hated her (I was young). Then she told me I shouldn’t say that to her because she could go and get in a car accident or something and I may never see her again and “I hate you” would be the last thing I had said to her.
To this day that has stuck with me and I try to never leave things on bad terms with people. You never know if it’s the last time you’ll see someone.
“Only way to double your money every time at a casino: fold it in half and put it in your pocket.”
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“Be good to each other,” was the last thing my father said to my mother and I before he went into the surgery from which he would eventually die. I think he meant for my mother and I to be good to each other, but I try to remember this every day and apply it to every interaction I have with people.
My father was the salt of the earth, a selfless man who was the perfect example of how to treat others, and I can only hope to lead my life based on his actions and words.
My dad is a super smart dude. PhD in Classical studies and knows 5+ languages. So, naturally, I was way ahead of all the other kids in he first years of my education. Without knowing it, he kept me in check for my whole life by saying one thing as he tucked me in one night.
He told me that you always have to be careful about anything you think you know. He said, roughly, “Aristotle was one of the smartest people of his time, but he was wrong about so much, because a smart person can connect the dots they see in a million ways that aren’t correct when they don’t have all the dots.”
Before every baseball game I had growing up my mom would always tell me, “Hit hard and run fast.” It may seem like nothing but I played my butt off after hearing those words. On Friday my name was called in the MLB draft by the Cincinnati Reds and I will continue to bust my butt for my mama.
My parents are very religious. Dad is a pastor, and the congregation is aging, people are moving away, etc., and so sometimes on what we called Youth Sunday, my parents would ask me to bring a friend.
So one week, I brought a friend who was gay. My parents knew this. They didn’t look shocked or disgusted when they found out (probably overheard us having a conversation earlier that morning about how nervous she was, being there, because it felt wrong). In fact, they later approached the both of us beforehand and said, “We don’t really care what your sexual orientation is. It may not be what we personally feel is right, but you’re always welcome in church, in our house, and you can be gay and still love God… Ok, now that that’s over, what y’all want for dinner??” They ask about my friend to this day, how she is, who she’s dating, is she married yet, they should have the wedding at our church. The point is they didn’t try to overwrite her life by forcing their religion. It made me realize my parents weren’t just “good” Christians. They were genuinely good people.
– Integrity is how you behave when nobody is watching
– Everyone you meet knows something you don’t
– Only look in your neighbor’s bowl to make sure they have enough
– If you’re the best at something, train like you’re not
– Some of life’s greatest rewards must be obtained by virtue, not force
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Astronomer here! When I was ten years old, one night my dad was abuzz at dinner because the great comet Hyakutake was out in the sky and after dinner we were going to drive out into the country to see it. So I remember the excitement of doing something so different on a school, then seeing this fuzzy thing in the sky, which was neat but not mind shattering.
The next part was though. My dad was still describing what a comet was to us, and how they had wild orbits where they spend most of their time past Pluto, and this one in fact would take 70,000 years before it passed Earth again. “Think of me when you see it,” he joked, and that left me in awe. As a kid I guess you think you’ll see live forever, or at least long enough to do everything again you want, but this was the first time I truly realized something would outlast me even if I lived a really long time, and I’d never see Hyakutake again.
That memory stayed with me a long time. I’m not sure I would be an astronomer without it. And I feel very lucky to be the daughter of a man who would get excited enough about stuff like a comet to take us out to see one.
“Your life is like a bus. People will get on, people will get off. Some people will stay on forever. Other people will be there for a short time and then leave. And sometimes you just need to kick someone off your bus.”
My dad passed away from cancer a few years ago. During his battle I was his sole caretaker. At 19 I was taking care of him, making sure our bills were paid, getting groceries, cooking, cleaning, setting up appointments, and the million other tasks that come with being someone’s caretaker.
One day when I returned from running errands, my dad told me he forgot our electric bill was due that day. I casually told him that I had already run a check over while I was out and about. I remember he stopped what he was doing and just turned to look at me and said “You’re going to be just fine when I’m gone”. That was heartbreaking to think about, but comforting to know he saw my maturity and ability to handle everyday responsibilities. I hadn’t felt I was ready to be on my own, but he helped me realize I would be just fine. 8 years later, and I am doing okay on my own, but man do I wish he was here.
You can be friendly to everyone, but you can’t be friends with everyone.
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“I might not have given birth to you, but you are mine. You were mine from the day I met you. I loved you the second I saw you. Nobody can change that.” This came from my stepmother a couple years ago. I met her when I was 13, and I’m almost 21 now.
It meant a lot because she was the first strong, consistent mother figure I ever had. She knows that was a nice thing to say, but I don’t think she knows quite how much it meant to me. I don’t think she will ever know how much I love and respect her for who she is.
My dad chaperoned my sixth grade field trip to a local swimming area. I was painfully shy as a kid, to the point of literally not speaking out loud for months at a time. (I was later diagnosed with severe anxiety and major depressive disorder.)
So during this field trip, I was sitting alone off to the side, as I usually did. A couple girls from my class came over and asked me to go and swim with them. I shook my head no, and they left to swim. They came back after an hour and asked again. Still, no. My dad had been watching this, and after the second time, he came over and said “If you keep saying no, people are going to stop asking you to join in.”
When the girls came back a third time, my dad gave me a thumbs up from where he was sitting. I nodded yes, and even though I still couldn’t bring myself to speak, I went swimming and actually enjoyed it.
Now, still anxious and depressed in my mid-20’s, I find myself saying yes to new opportunities even if I inevitably feel uncomfortable. Going on a date with someone new? Yes. Taking on a new responsibility at work? Yes. Giving daily presentations to groups of 30+ people? Yes.
I still feel massively uncomfortable, but I’m able to speak and interact, and pass as a functioning adult most of the time. I’ve never told my dad about my struggles with anxiety, or my attempts at suicide. I’m recovering (or at least trying to), but I wouldn’t have gotten this far unless I had started saying yes.
I was probably twelve and tried to cook for the first time. I burned my eggs and I was expecting my dad to be angry that I had wasted food. But he casually threw it in the trash and said.
“It’s alright, just try again.”
I learned that sometimes you have to make mistakes to succeed.
Another one was when I was probably fourteen. I was a bit hyper and heavily into martial arts. I was in the kitchen and doing kicks when I lost balance and knocked a glass of the counter. Felt really embarrassed and again thought that my dad would be upset but he just asked me if I had stepped into any splinters and then cleaned up my mess.
He doesn’t remember any of this but it’s strange how often I go back to those moments when someone messed up and I try to be calm and understanding.
Me (age 7 or 8): “Mom, has the US won every war it’s been in?”
Mom: “Nobody wins in war.”
When my father was dying he told me that as he was leaving this life he had become aware of what was important and what was not. He said that all he owned, his professional success and other things people prized were just “ashes and dust”. He said the three things that were of value and that he would take with him were the love he shared with people, the services he performed for them and what he had learned and experienced.
He then reminded me that one day I would be in his same position so if I wanted to look back at that moment on a life without regrets, then I should focus on what I would see as important when I am on my death bed.
That one conversation had shaped my life for the last 40 years.